Hong Kong Visas Made Easy

19

Jun 2018

Long Term Business Visit to Hong Kong – Do I Need an Employment Visa?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Visitor Visas, Your Question Answered / No responses

With Hong Kong having such a liberal visa-upon-arrival regime (with more than 160 nationalities being granted permission to visit for between 7 and 180 days – depending on which passport you carry), it is understandable that there is confusion as to what is permitted activity if you are a ‘business visitor’ in the HKSAR.

This question provides an opportunity to get to the heart of this issue once and for all.

QUESTION

“Hi, Your websites are really informative. Thanks for making all this information available for free. I do have one question which I would like to have an answer for though.

I co-own and manage a small company in the UK (6 staff altogether) and we do a lot of business with one company in Hong Kong especially. Due to a contract we have just signed, I need to transfer myself to HK for up to one year in total, although I will probably travel to and from the UK several times in that period. I am trying to understand if I need to get an employment visa for Hong Kong. My business will carry on as normal in the UK (my brother and I run it together) but for all practical purposes I will be based out of Hong Kong for those 12 months.

Any advice you can offer would be really appreciated. Thank you!”

ANSWER

If you make a business visit to Hong Kong, the question it begs as to what is permitted activity in the immigration status.

And typically business visitors must generally contain their activities to, for example attending business meetings or fact finding discussions or this type of activity that gets to the heart of the possibility of some kind of transaction with your counterparties in Hong Kong. You can come for example to make sales calls to potential business partners, clients as long as while you’re making those sales calls you are working for an entity that’s established outside of Hong Kong. You can come to sign contracts or conclude contracts and submit formal tender proposals and support the submission exercise through the delivery of presentations and supporting representation.

You can participate in overall product orientation. You can attend short term seminars. You can oversee the installation or the packaging of goods but you cannot actually be responsible and go hands on in relation to the installation or the packaging of those goods. And it’s a permitted activity to participate in exhibitions or trade fairs although it is not permitted activity to roll those up and start for example building the booth within the trade fair. You could assemble from a kit that you’ve brought with you, that’s natural but if you had to order timber locally and you needed to interact with local contractors and take responsibility for the formal building of your stand you would need work authorizations for that. And it’s perfectly okay to come and participate in for example reservation if you’re going to be suing somebody or you’re being sued and you need to give evidence.

So, in all things considered, business visits allow you to do all the kind of activities that are peripheral to commercial activity. And where it can be said that you’re actually getting involved in the provision of services or you’re implementing activities in relation to the commercial that it had brought you into Hong Kong in the first place, you’re going to need an employment visa. And this really sort of translates itself into a sort of common sense understanding. If you’re going to come for three or four months at a time and you are a  U.K. citizen and you have 180 days as a visitor,  and during those three or four months you’re living in some serviced apartment and at 9 o’clock in the morning you’re reporting to your counter partner’s office and you going to your desk you’re sitting there and you’re on the telephone and you’re preparing paperwork and you are doing the kind of activities that will actually go towards the implementation of  the commercial aspect of what brought you to Hong Kong in the first place; and that’s really work, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, in actual fact it’s quacking its head off you are in fact a duck. Therefore, you need to have an employment visa.

So, whilst there are some differences between the activities, which are permitted by regulations and those that are allowed in practice, if you are going to be discharging your employment duties in Hong Kong, the type of things that you would ordinarily be doing back in the U.K. albeit it’s more practical to live in Hong Kong underground doing that stuff, you need to have an employment visa.

Therefore, my advice in this situation would be to not rely on business visit category, even though you’re going to get 180 days period of stay each time you present yourself at the border, make an application for an employment visa.

The Immigration Department will take into consideration all the circumstances of your place and if you’ve got a genuine complex and you’ve got a business back home that this is going to continue and in fact is supporting the activities that have brought you to Hong Kong in the first place, the immigration department will grant you the employment visa. So make that application and don’t attempt to just rely on business visit category simply because practically you get a 180 days each time you present yourself in Hong Kong at the border.

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17

Jun 2018

I Have a PRC National Spouse Resident on the Mainland – Can She Get a Dependant Visa for Hong Kong?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Family Visas, Your Question Answered / No responses

The question of immigration status for mainland resident spouses of current or aspiring Hong Kong residents is a bit of a hot potato. As this PodCast answer sets out, there is a dual track system in place in the immigration system which makes for winners and losers – and for once, those with the Right of Abode miss out.

QUESTION

“My employer wishes to relocate me from our Shanghai office back to our Hong Kong office. I previously had a Hong Kong work visa from 2007-2010.

I’ve very recently been married to my mainland Chinese wife. Will the fact that she is mainland Chinese adversely affect our ability to get a work visa for myself and a spouse visa for her?

What steps can I take in order to improve the likelihood that we are approved (besides the marriage certificate, mutual bank statements, and photos showing that we’ve been together for a long time)?”

ANSWER

In recent years PRC national mainland resident spouses, who have been sponsored for dependant visas by foreign nationals living or seeking to live in Hong Kong can apply for dependant visa for Hong Kong just like any other foreign national can.

Consequently, in your circumstances, you can apply for a visa to join you as your spouse without concern or respect to their nationality and the fact that suit residents on the mainland at the moment and this is contrary to the situations faced by residents in Hong Kong, who have the rights of abode, that is their permanent residents.

You see, spouses of Hong Kong permanent residents can only sponsor their mainland spouses into Hong Kong on the one way permit system, which is subject to a daily quota and as a [00:48] law of many, many years. And actually this is the same for foreign national permanent residence and native Chinese permanent residents of Hong Kong alike.

So, when you make your application for employment visa to be collected back from back to Hong Kong from Shanghai, you simply included your wife on the ID 990B employment visa application form and then submit the documents to show that you’re happily married, that you live together until now and that you can financially support her. She will need an endorsement in her travel document from the local Public Security Bureau in Shanghai as well, but after that, basically, your application should be very straightforward and I will not anticipate that you will have any problems being able to relocate to Hong Kong together.

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15

Jun 2018

Work Ended – What Visa Options Do You Have to Stay in Hong Kong For Another 2 Years to Get Your Permanent Residency?

Posted by / in Family Visas, Investment Visas, Long Stay & PR, Special Programmes, Your Question Answered / No responses

First Published October 14, 2012

This is a popular topic that people query our websites about, so it’s timely that we received this question out of the blue yesterday. In my answer I refer to the following content resources: QMAS, Dependant Visa, Business Investment Visa.

SMALL-keep-calm-and-ask-the-visa-geeza

QUESTION

“I have been working in HK since 2007 on a working visa, which expired in August 2012. Is there any legal status that I can apply for, except getting another job in HK or investing HK10m, to extend my past 5 years so that I can apply for a permanent residency in HK in 2 years time?

I travel often to other countries but I have been practically living in HK and renting an apartment since 1997.  I hold a Canadian passport.   Currently I am here as a visitor.”

This is a very interesting question, but it’s also quite involved because it requires the essay of three particular visa categories, that may be open for your consideration to assist you to get back into residents visa permissions.

The three visa consents that you are looking at applying under potentially, which don’t include going and getting an employment visa or investing ten million dollars under the Capital Investment Entrance Scheme Visa. The only other three options available to you are the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme program, a Dependant visa or in fact a Business Investment visa.

Just dealing with these programs very quickly. The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme program could be available to you if you are particularly well educated or very well accomplished in your particular professional area of expertise. The dependant visa could be that if you were in a loving committed relationship and residents of Hong Kong and you’re not presently married obviously, then you could make an application for a dependant visa and that would give you the residents permission that you need to continue your residence here. Thirdly, if you are entrepreneurial in spirit and you’ve got a modicum of funds to invest and you can show that you can make a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong, you could consider an application for Business Investment visa. Now each of these three visa categories, I’m going to include links in the body of this post, to give you access to the information.

So, those are effectively your options to bring your existing visitor visa and to regularization that a resident visa consent and then you just need to deal with the issue about the impact that all of this will have on your subsequent application after you have been here for seven years for a permanent residency status, and getting a permanent identity card in the process.

The more time you spend as a visitor without taking any steps towards regularizing your resident visa will after the fact count against you for the continuation of the ordinary residency.

However, if you are able to quickly get a new application into the system and subsequently go on to have that application approved no matter how long it takes, then that time spent as a visitor should not count against your continuous ordinary residence. I mention this particularly because the QMAS program takes five to seven months to complete. The business investment visa application only takes three to four months to complete and a dependant visa is really just an administrative exercise so that will take three or four weeks for that process to play itself out.

So there is a consideration that you need to bring into play as to what the most realistic way of getting status is available to you and how fast it will be for you to be able to bring your current tourist visa into a resident visa status.

Okay, I hope that helps in your quest to stay in Hong Kong.

More Stuff You May Find Useful or Interesting

Will any time spent in Hong Kong as a Visitor count against my 7 years for permanent residency?

Time spent outside of Hong Kong for work – the impact on your right of abode.

Work in Hong Kong for 5 years – leave for 2 – then return: will I lose my continuous residence for PR purposes?

If You Stay in Hong Kong for 7 Years as a De-facto Spouse Holding a Prolonged Visitor Visa Will You Qualify for Permanent Residency?

Do I Need to be Physically Present in Hong Kong When My Father Extends His Dependant Visa?

 

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13

Jun 2018

Will the Hong Kong Immigration Department Extend Your Visitor Visa if You Ask Them To?

Posted by / in Visitor Visas, Your Question Answered / No responses

I have received 2 questions on the topic of ‘long stay’ visitor visas and the extension possibilities in the last 24 hours so am taking the opportunity to merge them into a single answer here.

QUESTION

“Hi, I think I could use some of your quality advice. My situation seems to be quite complicated, so I will keep it as simple as possible.

Last year, I moved to Hong Kong between October and March. I obtained a 6-month training visa for this period. Between the end of March and June, I traveled around Asia and returned to Hong Kong for a week during the beginning of June (on a visitor visa). I then returned home to Europe, where I decided that I wanted to move back out to Hong Kong in search of a permanent position (and live with my sister in the meantime). I have now been in HK since the 16th of August (approx 75 days) and therefore I am nearing the end of my visitor visa. I still have not found a job, therefore I have to go about renewing it. 

I would like to know from you, what you would do in my situation for the renewal of my visitor visa. I have heard that I can do a quick return trip to Macau or that I can submit a demand to the Immigration Department and request another 90 days. What method would you suggest?”

AND

“Hi Visa Geeza, I’ve got a question. For the past two years I have stayed in Hong Kong for over 500 days (in and out of Macau every three months/90 days) and now I’m wondering how long I can pull this off without raising red flags. I am not employed in any way and have just spent my days with my daughter who’s studying at university here.”

ANSWER

I’ve covered a lot of ground in recent times about the issue of visitor visas and what it takes to get them extended. All of this material is detailed in the links that I included on this post.

But these two questions get to the heart of what the Immigration Department make of people who have genuine reasons to visit Hong Kong and want to stay on an extended basis. But in the final analysis, the essence of the answer raised this question. Is really this follows, firstly if you apply for an extension to visit a visa immigration tower it’s your opportunity to explain to the Immigration Department about what’s keeping you here and it allows Immigration Department take a view as to your activities and your rationale for remaining. What is really a long stay basis as a visitor?

And then secondly, in disclosing your circumstances to Immigration Department and the Immigration Tower, this way you can expect to receive an extension to the visitor visa that they think is commensurate with the need to stay longer versus the time that you’ve already planned here.

Thirdly, as part of the extension exercise you can expect the Immigration Department to ask you to give an undertaking as to when your visit will end and that you will leave Hong Kong for good. Meaning for a least a 12 months period before you’re seeking to return.

Fourthly, if you decide not to apply to Immigration Tower then you need to exit and then you need to leave Hong Kong via the airport or via the Macau Ferry Terminal or the [Unclear] one of the boundaries to China.

Fifthly, each time you present yourself to the airport or the boundaries the Immigration Officer in front of you is assessing you afresh as to your bona fide days as a visitor each time you  present yourself.

Sixthly, bear in mind that the immigration officers have every discretion to refuse to admit you, that they can admit you for just a short period only, they can give you a short conditional landing status or they can simply let you through.

And each time you present yourself this is a new examination of your circumstances but it’s also true to say that once you spend more than 180 days as a visitor in any given 12 month period they’re likely to appear on their radar as you make your entry into Hong Kong.

Also note that a visa to visit is just that. It isn’t a resident visa and your time in Hong Kong as a visitor is going to come to an end sooner if not later. The longer you’re able to string out your time in Hong Kong, the sooner you’re going to have to leave permanently. But having family who have residency in Hong Kong is a good reason for spending an extended period of time here and can explain your visit history accordingly, but it doesn’t afford you the residency rights in on itself and the only way you can properly factor family into the visitor visa mix is to present yourself at Immigration Tower and allow them to understand all of this and to take a view and to determine exactly how much time you’re going to apply to remain here.

But it’s fair to say that the guys in Wanchai, are a lot less generous about what you can get away with that you can at the border but it’s at the border where the biggest risk lies.

More Stuff You May Find Useful or Interesting

The long stay visitor’s awkward predicament

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Is the ‘Shenzhen Shuttle’ a good way to extend your visitor visa?

Is it possible to get an extension to my visitor visa to stay with my girlfriend here?

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10

Jun 2018

Work in Hong Kong for 5 Years – Leave for 2 – Then Return – Will I Lose My Continuous Residence for PR Purposes?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Long Stay & PR, Your Question Answered / No responses

It happens a lot. You stay and work in Hong Kong for 3, 4, 5 years and get over the hump en route to the magic 7 years needed for a Permanent Identity Card. Then you find yourself having to spend time away from Hong Kong to further your career, education or due to special circumstances. The issue is, however, will all this time spent in Hong Kong be lost and will you have to reset the clock once more when you eventually return after your temporary sojourn abroad?

QUESTION

“I will be leaving Hong Kong to study in Australia for the next two years. I have lived in HK for the last 5 years and would like to return after I have completed my studies.

I am wondering if it is possible to maintain my residency in Hong Kong if I returned every 4 months.  I have a work visa here that is valid until next September but will be leaving for school in July. I am hoping to get my Permanent Residency here and would like to have the five years that I have lived here count towards that instead of having to start all over when I return.

Is this possible?  Thanks.”

ANSWER

The test for permanent residency in Hong Kong is that you need to be able to show that you have been continuously and ordinarily resident here for period of not less than seven years and then the absence outside of Hong Kong in that time has been merely temporary as evidenced by what you leave behind to return back to after your time abroad. Moroever as you are leaving Hong Kong for two years, after living here for five even though in your own mind your absence is just temporary the real issue for you is that your residency, the part of the test that’s important as well as time spent away from Hong Kong needs to be addressed.

You see, you need to have held the residence visa all throughout the seven years and from the circumstances that you describe there you no longer have a residence visa while you’re away. Consequently, when you make your application after seven years it will likely fail because you haven’t been resident.

Even returning every four months won’t help you because as when you return you’ll be here only as a visitor and whilst holding the visitor visa during the seven years residency for the purposes of a right of abode application doesn’t automatically disqualify you for permanent residency.

Anytime, which you spend as a visitor needs to result from kind of administrative flux between residency visa approvals, which tend to be sort of a few weeks at most. Therefore, you are effectively abandoning your residence visa status after five years or so and then trying to pick it up again two years later.

That won’t be deemed due to administrative flux, it will be likely that the Immigration Department will see you as having abandoned your residency so that you can spend this time in Australia but the time that you come back to Hong Kong really is just as a visitor and that, and when you make your application subsequently  for you right of abode I’m afraid the Immigration Department will more than likely conclude that you did abandon your continuity of residency at the time that you set off to Australia to commence your studies.

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07

Jun 2018

Losing Your Right of Abode in Hong Kong & Then Using eChannels

Posted by / in Long Stay & PR, Your Question Answered / No responses

QUESTION

“Can I ask a simple question – do you know of anyone (not Chinese) who has actually lost the right of abode after 36 months absence?

I do know the theory and the provisions in the Ordinance but how about in practice?

I ask because my (Australian) daughter may have lost hers after 38 months absence but how will the loss manifest itself if she arrives say, tomorrow, and tries to enter through the e gate?

I have to tell you that my (New Zealand) husband was informed a while ago that he (not a PR) had lost his unconditional stay status after an absence of 14 months.

He had to enter on his passport. But a few days later he went to Shenzhen using his ID card to leave and then successfully re-entered with his ID card! And now clearly still has unconditional stay!

It seems reality does not always follow the rules.”

ANSWER

Now this is a really interesting question!

The loss of status occurs by operation of law and policy and it doesn’t automatically follow that the Hong Kong immigration department systems are trailing right in their wake.

So, assuming an adult is over 21 then his status will be downgraded to the right to land. For all practical purposes this is the same as the right of abode although she and has lost the right to vote.

Technically, she should relinquish her permanent identity card and apply for and be issued with a non-permanent identity card. She can reacquire the right of abode again if she applies for it after another seven years of continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong.

As for your husband I’d urge you to regularize his immigration status to resident once again by an application for him to be your dependent. If he has lost his unconditional stay then he’s no longer technically resident in the HKSAR and he’ll be here as a visitor.

As a non-resident he doesn’t have the right to use the e-channels even though he has physical possession of a Hong Kong ID card that’s facilitating his movements across the boundaries. It really does make sense not to do that again honestly.

More Stuff You May Find Interesting or Useful

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10 Must Have resources for a successful Hong Kong permanent residency application

Will I still qualify for the right of abode if I worked temporarily in Macau yet lived in Hong Kong for the full 7 years?

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04

Jun 2018

Can You Freelance or Start Your Own Business Under a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa?

Posted by / in Investment Visas, Special Programmes, Your Question Answered / 5 responses

Can you freelance or start your own business under a Hong Kong working holiday visa?

SMALL-keep-calm-and-ask-the-visa-geeza

The working holiday visa for Hong Kong is designed for certain types of employment activity – but does this include freelance work or starting or your own business?

QUESTION

Hi

I have recently moved to Hong Kong with my partner (who has an employment visa) and I obtained a working holiday visa for 1 year.

My plan was to get over here and then look for work opportunities and then transfer over to an appropriate visa. I registered my own company in Ireland and it looks like the most work I will do here would be as a freelancer.

Am I able to work as a freelancer on the working holiday visa or do I need to get another visa – say the investment visa?

We do plan to be here a few years.

Thanks

First Published On April 15, 2013

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